Wham, Bam, Thank You Van!

Changan Mini Van

Indwe - - Contents -

Indwe re­cently had a chance to take the Changan Mini Van out for a spin – and dis­cov­ered that it’s not just a bread van.

I know what the Changan Mini­van is meant for. In fact, more cru­cially, I know what it isn’t meant for, but I did the school run in it any­way. But be­fore we dis­cuss the car, I think I need to elab­o­rate on the cargo. That’s my­self and my three bois­ter­ous boys aged eight, nine and 17. You see a de­liv­ery ve­hi­cle, they see a tiny party bus. A party bus with seating for five, a hold for school bags and af­ter­care duf­fels – or our Staffies, if my boys had their way.

There’s the 1,243 cc en­gine and the thim­bles of power and torque it could fill with its 71 kW and 119 Nm, hooked up via a five-speed man­ual box of gears. Ac­cord­ing to the brochure, the Changan has a top speed of 120 km/h. To which my boys replied: “You can go faster than that, Daddy!” And for sci­ence’s sake, I did – al­beit re­ally not by much. But to be­gin once again at the be­gin­ning, that’s not re­ally what the Changan Mini­van is for.

MORE ‘VAN MAN’ THAN VAN DAMME The Changan makes a lot more sense as a low-cost de­liv­ery and ser­vice ve­hi­cle. Think plumber, con­trac­tor, wire in­staller,

the prover­bial man-in-a-white-van com­pan­ion, stick­ered to the high heav­ens in their com­pany’s lo­gos, tele­phone num­bers, so­cial-me­dia han­dles and stuff of that ilk.

In that con­text its R146,800 price tag (or spoil your­self at R164,880 with the Lux model) rep­re­sents ex­cel­lent value. Its low-rent cabin feels sat­is­fy­ingly robust and ca­pa­cious enough to suit my brood, so I as­sume more than up to the task of swal­low­ing a load of plumb­ing gear, tools, pipes . . . what­ever your flavour, re­ally.

Han­dling is com­pe­tent thanks to a hardy sus­pen­sion, Macpher­son struts across the front axle, and leaf springs at the rear. Brak­ing is ad­e­quate thanks to a com­bi­na­tion sys­tem of discs up­front and ye olde drums at the back. You’ll con­sume many miles be­tween trips to the pump thanks to a 40-litre petrol tank and a con­ser­va­tive 6.5 l/100 km of un­leaded be­ing swilled from that 1,243 cc en­gine. Makes sense then, since the whole thing only weighs 1,130 kg – im­pres­sive for what is es­sen­tially a one-ton­ner.

FINAL SAY

The build qual­ity is still not up to some of the stan­dards set by more es­tab­lished in­dus­try play­ers, but it is for­giv­able to me in a work­horse at this price, and I can vouch for the lit­tle Changan.

It comes in three body styles: this mini­van, as well as two bakkies, a single and dou­ble cab with the prior be­ing the en­try-level at R131,880. They all come with a three-year/100,000 km warranty, so con­sider that when eval­u­at­ing its true “peace of mind” po­ten­tial. It’s plucky and al­most love­able – eas­ily the most in­ter­est­ing car I’ve taken through the McDon­ald’s drive-thru this year. And if you’re a bud­ding en­tre­pre­neur or just a fi­nan­cially-savvy one, it de­serves to be on your radar.

Text: Calvin Fisher Images © Supplied

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